June 6, 2016

Letters to Piri // 09

Dear Piri, 

You are probably wondering now, or have been wondering for quite a while, about what is going on with your body. Some things just don't work the way they used to, eh? We hide things inside meat or treats and give them to you and you see us smile when you swallow it whole. Piri, you have oral melanoma. It's cancer in the mouth that is metastatic. That's why you are feeling so weak and groggy and not your usual self. We put you through 2 months of chemo and gave you vaccine shots in hopes that we can somehow slow the growth. That is why you aren't feeling so well...

I don't know if it was a good decision to put you through chemo. I fight with myself every day wondering if I made the right decision.

And there have been many other decisions that followed, and will probably be more... I just hope you know that I make them hoping it's for the best. I'm sorry if I hurt you more or put you through more pain. But thank you for that fighting spirit. For that amazing resilience you have shown us over and over again.

I saw you sleeping on your bed the other day and saw your rib cages. Your boney legs and hips. But then you perked your head up - did you sense that I was spying on you? The way you look at me after waking up from a nap is the same. Same from all those years ago when you first came to live with me. Even the way the one side of your face is all squished. 

Piri, we've been getting so many messages and emails from people all over sharing their own heartbreaking story of when they had to part with their dogs. It makes me cry every time I read them and am amazed at their strength and grace to share such a difficult memory in hopes that I can continue to find peace and strength during our last journey together. There are really good people out there. All rooting for us. For you.

I am not sure what it is that makes this so difficult for me, Piri. I am not sure if it's seeing you so weak from cancer and having to let you go this way.. or if it's just knowing that you will no longer be here next to me. 17 years, and of those 17 you spent 10 with me physically. How can I let go 17 years of us? I don't know if I know how to or if I will be able to at all. I don't know how other people and their companions so gracefully, peacefully, and painfully said their good-byes. I don't know how to be that brave... 

Seeing you still so attached to Yangkyu and wanting to be next to him even if it's him just going to get a glass of water from the kitchen... when I see you following him around everywhere it makes me think that you don't want to go. That you so desperately want to stay and be with your favorite human in the entire world. And knowing that won't be possible breaks my heart.

I wish I can give you one more of your favorite treat. I wish I can play one more of your favorite game. I wish I can give you one more of your favorite meal. Now it's too late. I wish I knew when the last time I could do these were... then it wouldn't feel as though I lost my chance... I wouldn't feel so regretful.

You know what it is like receiving messages from people, Piri? It's like... I'm trying to cross a really shaky unstable bridge. And I can't because I'm deathly afraid of heights. But then there are all these invisible hands holding mine and helping me take small baby steps... I resist and they let me resist for a while but continue helping me go my way... slowly, at my own pace. 

I wish we can spend one more Christmas together... and put up ornaments like we used to and you wearing that elf hat that you dread so much. Our special ornament this year is from Key West. It's going to break my heart seeing that ornament without you there next to me.

Maybe my birthday? It's only 5 days away from Christmas, Piri. 

Or maybe until October so we can see the fall foliage together one more time. Do you think you can fight on until then? 

How about August and September. I won't take any guest dogs then and we can spend it quietly together. Just the three of us. 

Or... just until Yangkyu's birthday.... is it too much to ask you to hang on until then?

There are so many things that I thought I couldn't do but you have proved otherwise. I thought we could never give you sub-q fluids on our own. There was just no possible way to prick you with a needle. But we did it. We did it because we had to do it. I thought there was no way in hell I was going to be able to groom you. But somehow I did because we needed to (ok... so it may not look great but it's still considered a cut, no?). Anything is possible right Piri? Maybe even learning about loss.

I had a cocker when I was a child. His name was Bobby. He passed away so suddenly at a young age. I was so heartbroken and I remember it being so unbearable that I never wanted to have a dog again. Then my brother brought you home a couple of years later. And I prayed and prayed for you to live a long life because Bobby had died early. And here you are at 17. I think Bobby had something to do with that... perhaps he was always looking after you all these years. 

I think about Bobby a lot now. Then I feel so bad that I forgot about him all these years. And I am so afraid that many many many years down the line, you will slowly fade into a distant memory. I am so terrified of that. 

Good luck today during your visit to the oncologist. I am sorry I can't go with you again, but I'll be calling in to talk to the doctor so don't worry. If you get scared, ask Yangkyu to hold your hand. Spooning? Ok, spooning. I'll be waiting here, as always, for you to come back home.

This is our journey and it's not over yet...

You'll tell me when you are ready, right Piri? 

The human girl who just can't seem to let go...

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